Known for helping actors like Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther) and Angela Bassett (Black Panther) build action hero physiques, trainer Corey Calliet is a passionate advocate for the fight against childhood obesity.
We should “get kids moving, playing, and being outside.” Calliet believes that if more children were encouraged to stay active at a young age, it would help them sleep better, improve their mental wellbeing, and build strong bones —benefits that go far beyond maintaining a healthy weight.
Earlier this year, Calliet teamed up with other fitness trainers and wellness experts for “Get Fit for No Kid Hungry,” a month-long campaign to raise funds and awareness to help end childhood hunger in the US.
Lack of regular access to nutritionally adequate foods—known as food insecurity—can increase a child’s risk of developmental problems, affect their mental health, and contribute to obesity.
In 2020, nearly one in five US children and teens were affected by obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity in children can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and other health complications. In addition, children with obesity are at higher risk of having obesity as adults.
While many factors contribute to childhood obesity—including genetics—regular physical activity, healthy eating, sleeping well, and limiting screen time can help counter it.
Many trainers work with high-profile clients, but Calliet’s approach stands out for focusing on more than just movement. “Changing a body is one thing, but when you can change a person’s mindset, heart, and emotion, that’s where real growth happens,” he says.
“If you can tap into the mental aspect of exercise,” he says, “then you will be able to keep the results longer.” This change in mindset can encourage people to sustain their fitness, even after they stop working with a trainer.
In particular, Calliet focuses on high-intensity interval training, which involves bursts of intense exercise interspersed with rest. At 30 or 45 minutes per session, such workouts are ideal for people with busy lives.
Workouts can be customized to fit a person’s current fitness level—what counts as high-intensity for a beginner is different than for an athlete. “Everybody wants to look the best they can,” says Calliet. “So when they come to me with a plan—with their honesty—I work with them to reach their goals.”
Another key component of fitness is recovery; Calliet emphasizes its importance in preparing the body for the next workout. This includes proper nutrition. “You need enough fuel to actually push yourself,” he says, “so your body can burn calories and build muscle at the same time.” When working with clients, Calliet likes to keep it simple, focusing on balanced macronutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, and fats—and adjusting them as needed.
Hydration is another key component of recovery: “water keeps everything going through your body.” As is proper sleep, which provides time for muscle tissues to regenerate, repair, and grow.
The best time to begin your health journey is when you’re younger, Calliet says, however it’s never too late to start living a healthier life. “I've had older people come to me and get in the best shape they've ever been in their life—at 60 years old!”
If you’re ready to get in action hero shape, Calliet is making his expertise available through his ACHV Fitness app at mrcalliet.com.
Here are a few of Calliet’s tips for supporting long-term health:
· Add all the colors to your plate by opting for a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
· “Stop being so lackadaisical with yourself and take yourself seriously,” says Calliet.
· Make walking part of your life—20 to 30 minutes a day.
· “You only get one body and one life,” he says, “so live life to the fullest.”
Connecting with others can support your fitness journey:
● Get creative: working out with others opens up new opportunities—think partner-assisted pull-ups, medicine ball tosses, and kneeling hamstring curls.
● Exercise longer: a recent study found that people who worked out with a partner had a lower risk of developing cognitive impairments, compared to those who exercised alone.
● Find accountability: when others expect you to show up in the morning for a workout or fitness class, it’s harder to hit the snooze button.
● Feel motivated: encouragement from others can keep you exercising when your energy level dips.
Parents and caregivers can help prevent childhood obesity by modeling behaviors such as eating healthy meals and snacks, staying physically active, and setting up a sleep routine. Focus on overall health, rather than reaching a certain weight goal.
This article was originally published in the November-December 2023 issue of alive magazine (US edition).